In the early years of our company, we saw a need to develop a program for clients living with dementia. In an effort to better serve these clients, we researched available cognitive screenings. Looking over research related to cognitive stimulation benefits, we realized that finding a screening sensitive to Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), often the precursor to dementia, and mild dementia would be helpful. Having such a screening tool would enable Choices in Senior Care to appropriately recommend cognitive stimulation programming to our clients at a time when it might be most beneficial in possibly slowing conversion to dementia from MCI or slowing the progression of dementia.
The Brief Cognitive Assessment Tool (BCAT) was the answer we found. This tool looks at multiple cognitive domains, such as immediate and delayed recall, attention, and executive function (problem- solving), and is sensitive to MCI and mild dementia. In order to use the information gained from the BCAT to serve our clients optimally, we hired a person with a background in speech- language pathology to develop and coordinate a Cognitive Stimulation Program. This unique program includes extensive dementia care training for our Care Managers and Concierge Caregivers in ways to involve, engage and cognitively stimulate our clients. Our Cognitive Stimulation Coordinator assesses our clients using the BCAT and makes recommendations, that may include one-on-one Cognitive Stimulation sessions and/or family and caregiver training.
Realizing the importance of music in cognitively stimulating persons living with dementia, and as an extension of the Cognitive Stimulation Program, we developed our monthly Back in the Day Music and Memory Café for caregivers and their loved ones in the community to come listen to old favorites, sing along, play Music Bingo, have snacks and connect with others once a month.
Choices in Senior Care strives to be on the cutting edge of Care Management best practices. Developing a Cognitive Stimulation Program is one of the ways we strive for more.
by Melanie Cahill, MS, CCC-SLP, Aging Life Care Associate™